Wilf, Landis, Mandelbaum avoid spotlight
MINNEAPOLIS -- They're silent partners with deep pockets.
The three men Reggie Fowler picked as investment partners in his quest to buy the Minnesota Vikings are prosperous, longtime New York-area real estate developers who shun publicity: Zygmunt Wilf, Alan B. Landis and David Mandelbaum.
"These people were the obvious candidates," Fowler said.
The NFL's Finance Committee will meet next week to decide whether to recommend Fowler's deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to all the NFL's team owners. The deal would make Fowler the NFL's first black owner.
"I'm making decisions as if I were to continue to be the owner of the Vikings although I fully expect that Mr. Fowler's deal will be consummated," McCombs said in a teleconference from Texas.
McCombs said commissioner Paul Tagliabue has met with Fowler to discuss a number of issues, including Fowler's financial status and an embarrassing incident two weeks ago in which Fowler representatives distributed a biography to reporters that included several inaccuracies.
"(Tagliabue) was very comfortable with the answers to all of that and he was very comfortable with Reggie and that the process was moving forward and making progress,'' McCombs said.
In a story for Thursday's editions, the Star Tribune reported that Wilf, Landis and Mandelbaum are attractive parts of the package; their transparent wealth lends credibility to the bid from Fowler, an Arizona businessman whose own holdings and net worth have been harder to quantify.
Under NFL rules, the general partner, who controls team operations, can own as little as 30 percent of the team.
When Fowler announced his purchase agreement last month, worth a reported $625 million, he was the center of attention. Wilf, Landis and Mandelbaum literally stood in the background at the news conference, refusing to identify themselves to reporters.
Wilf, Landis and Mandelbaum met Fowler sometime late last year, when he came to New York in search of partners, the Star Tribune reported. An associate of Fowler's, Detroit-area lawyer Jim Stapleton, made the connection, the report said.
According to the Star Tribune report:
In 1998, Landis sold Carnegie and a New Brunswick, N.J., office tower to Boston Properties, the ninth-largest real estate investment trust (REIT) in the country, for $284 million, including $137 million in cash. The deal also brought the Landis Group $95.4 million in shares of the REIT.
None of the three returned phone calls from the Star Tribune.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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